Age-old question: When was Ernestine Kober Fischer born?

 

Her tombstone and newspaper obituaries say she was 100 years old when she died in St. Louis in 1924, but earlier documents raise other possibilities.

 

Morris L. Fischer's wife, Ernestine, outlived him by 33 years. She died Feb. 20, 1924, of "cerebral apoplexy" (stroke), according to her death certificate.


Ernestine's age at death is a matter of some interest and uncertainty. Her death certificate (signed by her daughter, Caroline Fischer Slupsky), the Mt. Sinai Cemetery records and tombstone, and several St. Louis newspaper obituaries indicated she was at least 100 years old when she died. But much earlier records indicate that she was actually in her 80s or early 90s at the time of her death.
 

Jewish birth records for Kempen, Posen, Prussia (now Kepno, Poland) on microfilm at the Mormon library in Salt Lake City, Utah, indicate she was born Nov. 15, 1832, which would have made her 91 at the time of her death.
 

The ship's arrival record for the SS Germania from Hamburg that landed at New York City on Nov. 1, 1864, listed Ernestine's age as 28, suggesting a birth year of 1836 and an age at death of 87.
 

The U.S. census records for 1870, 1880 and 1900 fail to clarify the issue. The census of July 8, 1870, listed Ernestine's age as 31 (the same as her husband), which would make her age at death 85. The census of Nov. 11, 1880, listed her age as 39, suggesting an age at death of 82. The 1900 census indicates she was born in November 1841, which also would have made her 82 at the time of her death.
 

If she really had been 100 at the time of her death, she would have been giving birth to her children between the ages of 46 and 52---possible but unlikely. But, if she had been born in 1832, as indicated by the Kempen birth records, then her children would have been born at the much more credible ages of 38 to 44.

 

So, based on these earlier documents, I think it is fair to conclude that Ernestine was no older than 91 when she died, not 100.

 

 

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